Progression and assessment in geography

Assessment NC14 section new

Helping students make progress in geography is at the heart of good teaching, closely linked to the key responsibility of assessing students’ learning. Both are complex professional tasks, in which we need to apply our knowledge and understanding of:

  • the National Curriculum or GCSE/GCE specifications; their aims, purpose and content
  • progression and assessment and their relationship to planning, teaching, attainment and standards in geography.

This section provides subject specific guidance about how progression works in geography, support for setting up or reviewing a system for assessment, and developing good assessment practice.


Progression in geography

  • The three aspects of achievement, five dimensions of progress and geography benchmarks.

Assessing progress in geography

  • Points to advice and case studies of assessment and progression from primary geography to A level.

Feedback and marking

  • Support for developing effective and manageable feedback.

Assessment without levels - practical steps to support progression and attainment in geography

  • The resources on this page include information on the GA’s guidance on progression and assessment without levels, advice on how to critically review which aspects you might apply back in school, and information on how to review a unit of work with expectations developed into success criteria.

Geography GCSE and A level exam results

  • Comprehensive analysis of geography GCSE and A level exam results from 1993 - present.


assessment flyer

Download the GA Guidance flyer Assessment and progression framework for geography (PDF) which outlines what it means to make progress in geography and provides age-specific expectations for 7, 9, 11 and 14 years. 

To guide you through the process of review we produced this presentation, which acts as a basis for discussion with colleagues on progression and assessment.

Our following publications provide up-to-date guidance and advise on assessment:

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Official guidance

DfE guidance:

'Schools will be able to introduce their own approaches to formative assessment, to support pupil attainment and progression. The assessment framework should be built into the school curriculum, so that schools can check what pupils have learned and whether they are on track to meet expectations at the end of the key stage, and so that they can report regularly to parents.' DfE (2013a) Assessing Without Levels (

This presents both a huge challenge as well as an opportunity to reflect on our current assessment practice, to be clear about the standards we expect, and use this freedom to devise a system for assessment which engages pupils with their learning, promotes progression and high standards.


The National Association of Headteachers has set out some underpinning principles for assessment and a useful design checklist for schools seeking an assessment system, which you may find useful. The (2014) Report of the NAHT Commission on Assessment can be accessed here.

2. Ofsted

In a speech at the North of England Education Conference (15 January 2014), Sir Michael Wilshaw has set out what Ofsted expects in relation to assessment and the 2014 national curriculum:

'Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests.'